The Slovenia Times

NGO head Kovač physically attacked in Ljubljana


Ljubljana, Nika Kovač - the director of the 8 March Institute, was physically attacked in Ljubljana city centre on Tuesday, the NGO tweeted. She reported the attack, the institute said, adding this was her second visit to the police for the same reason in the past ten days. President Borut Pahor and Prime Minister Robert Golob condemned the attack.

The 8 March Institute has campaigned against water legislation last year, it is campaigning against political meddling in the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija and has recently lodged legislative changes to make school lunches for all primary school students free of charge.

The attack today took place at Bavarski Dvor, when a man ran into Kovač and pushed her away, yelling that he would kill her dog, and cursing the 8 March Institute, Kovač tweeted.

She was accompanied by a friend and they managed to run away from the attacker. "It all happened in broad daylight, with people walking past."

"Janša's collages, Nova24 and hate mongering have substantial effects," she warned, referring to previous Prime Minister Janez Janša.

Kovač added she was tired of being a victim and therefore did not talk about previous attacks, also because she does not want her family to worry about her.

However, she believes it is important at this point in time for people to become aware of the reality. "I work [abroad] in Europe because I'm not safe at home. I can't go anywhere alone."

She believes people are violent and aggressive toward the NGO because this is systemically encouraged. However, she does not intend to back down before the referendum on changes to RTV Slovenija act, scheduled for 27 November.

"Because it is factories of horror that create such behaviour. And because it's vital to protect the public broadcaster from this," she said.

The Ljubljana Police Department confirmed they had handled a case involving elements of physical violence in the Ljubljana centre area today, but would not disclose any details, citing privacy protection law and the interests of the investigation.

"We have zero tolerance to events involving elements of violence and handle them with care whilst implementing measures to protect the victims," the police release reads.

Prime Minister Golob condemned the attack as base and malicious. "I can't imagine how a normal grown male can sink to this level and take it out on young women. It is completely unacceptable," said Golob.

He added Kovač had been a target of some media, individuals and high political officials. "In the long term, this can be prevented only through constant respectful communication in public discourse declaring war on hate speech in the media and public communication."

This will have to be a priority in the next six months, he added.

President Borut Pahor also condemned the attack on Twitter, adding: "It is very important that we all condemn any violence and to build firm consensus for a tolerant and inclusive society".

Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković condemned the attack, saying he was "proud Slovenia has individuals such as Nika Kovač who dare express their views loud and clear and stand by them. There is no excuse for verbal or physical attacks on individuals for that".

The assault has also been condemned by both presidential candidates who made it to the run-off, as well as by some parties, including the Left.

Anže Logar, the SDS MP who won the first round of the presidential election, expressed his concern over the attack on his Twitter account, condemning both the attack and any form of violence against individuals. "I support tolerant society and respectful dialogue. I call on everyone to contribute to that in words as well," he added.

"This is the kind of Slovenia I don't want. @8Marec Nika, take courage and carry on," tweeted lawyer Nataša Pirc Musar, who came second in the first round of the presidential election on Sunday.


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